The NHL playoff schedule 2011 has already been nail-biting across the board. In fact, half of the opening playoff series have gone to a Game 7, with the first two held last night. While the Flyers-Sabres and Canucks-Blackhawks showdowns reached their end Tuesday, the Bruins and Canadians assured that they would go to the limit as well. But although Boston lost, the team will have one last chance to make up for it tonight, whereas the Sabres and Blackhawks have no more chances now.
In Philadelphia and Vancouver, two of the most notable opening series reached their end in different ways. While the Flyers and Sabres had a somewhat anticlimactic finish, the Canucks and Blackhawks forged a classic ending to their surprisingly classic battle.
First off, the Flyers actually played the entire night with one goalie, as Brian Boucher finally went the distance. In fact, it was Ryan Miller who got taken out early, as Philadelphia jumped all over him and sent the Sabres to a 5-2 defeat.
After coming extremely close to advancing in Buffalo during Game 6, the Sabres suddenly find themselves eliminated. But they are merely the latest playoff team to get caught at the wire by the Flyers after their 2010 comeback over the Bruins.
Now the second round could pair the Flyers and Bruins together for the second straight postseason, although Boston blew its own chance to advance in Montreal. With their 2-1 loss to the Canadians, the Bruins now have their own Game 7 to deal with tonight on short rest.
The Bruins and Canadians make up the third Game 7 of round one, while the Penguins and Lightning play the fourth. These finales will determine the new playoff bracket for the Eastern Conference, as the Western bracket was finally settled in Vancouver.
The Canucks finally looked ready to finish the Blackhawks, as they got the first goal within minutes and held onto a 1-0 lead much of the way. Yet Jonathan Toews broke Vancouver’s heart all over again with a short-handed goal with under two minutes left. It seemed inevitable that Chicago would complete a legendary 3-0 series comeback in overtime and send Vancouver into an offseason meltdown.
Instead, after three games of failures, several collapses from Roberto Luongo, and a heartbreaking end to regulation in Game 7, the Canucks finally sent the Blackhawks out. Alex Burrows started the scoring early in the night, and then ended the series with an unassisted strike that clinched a 2-1 win.
After Wednesday, the second round will be fully set, with Vancouver to play Nashville and Detroit to meet San Jose. But the East still has future playoff matchups to settle, which they will after another Game 7 doubleheader in Boston and Pittsburgh.
NHL.com- “2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinals Schedule”
SI.com- “Flyers advance with 5-2 win over Sabres in Game 7”
Yahoo Sports- “Burrows lifts Canucks into next round with OT goal”